Author Archive: Kimberly Hanes

Learning New Things

I had a great-aunt who lived to age 109 (really) and although she experienced some physical decline as she aged, her mind was sharp until the day she died. She played Bridge well into her early 100s and my mother and I were convinced that all that card-counting and trick-taking is at least one of the reasons her brain stayed so sharp. I’m planning to follow my aunt’s example because I believe that learning new things is a great way to keep my brain active and engaged, even if I don’t actually live to be 109.

I have to learn how to play first, of course. I know enough to know that Bridge isn’t easy, or maybe I should say that playing Bridge well isn’t easy. Plus, my best skills are in the area of words and language, not numbers, but that’s exactly why I believe that learning and playing Bridge will be good for me. It will exercise my brain and help keep my cognitive skills sharp. At least I hope so.

If playing cards doesn’t appeal to you, how about learning to cook? A foreign language? Chess? My point, of course, is to learn, to challenge yourself, to get better at something. We all know that physical exercise is beneficial but I’ve come to believe that mental exercise is important too. Card games like Bridge have the added benefit of being sociable, something I can do with other people.

If I live to be a really senior citizen, I hope I’ll be spending a good chunk of my time sitting around a square table with playing cards in my hands, adding up points and calculating how to fulfill a Three Spades contract. I’ll be having some fun, hanging out with friends and keeping my brain sharp. Hand me the cards, I’ll deal.

Kimberly Hanes is a writer with a passionate love for words and ideas and extensive experience in business communications and event planning.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

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Truth Or Consequences

Do you know who David Tovar is? If not, you should, because his story is a stark lesson in what not to do. Tovar was a Vice President of Corporate Communications at Walmart. He was being vetted for a promotion to Sr. VP when a background check uncovered the fact that he didn’t actually graduate from the University of Delaware, as he claimed on his resumé. Oops.

Here’s how Tovar explained the mistake, from businessweek.com:

Tovar said that the résumé “error” was spotted in an outside background check as part of his promotion to senior vice president. When asked about it by his employer, Tovar said he was “100 percent transparent.” He explained that he had walked in the university’s graduation ceremony, only learning afterward that he was a few credits short. He doesn’t seem to dispute the no-diploma problem.

Tovar then left college and got a job in New York. “I really didn’t think an art degree would matter in communications,” he told CNBC. 

Note that Tovar walked through that graduation ceremony in 1996, which means it took 18 years for the deception to catch up with him. He might argue that since he was successful enough in his VP job to be selected for a promotion to Sr. VP, how much difference does one little piece of paper, the diploma, really make? Not much, maybe, but the diploma isn’t the problem. The problem is that he misrepresented his credentials. To be blunt, he lied, and even after 18 years that’s not OK.

I’ve been thinking about David Tovar. Did he lie awake nights, fearful of the day his lie was exposed, or did he tell himself that after almost two decades, with a solid record of professional success, he was safe? Maybe he had more or less forgotten about those pesky credits he didn’t actually earn. Regardless, he eventually got caught, a reminder for all of us. Presenting ourselves, our education and our experience in the most positive light is OK. Lying isn’t.

Kimberly Hanes is a writer with a passionate love for words and ideas and extensive experience in business communications and event planning.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Disabled?

Could a man in a wheelchair be elected President of the United States? In 2016, almost certainly not.  No matter how brilliant that candidate might be, today’s 24/7 “style over substance” press coverage and depressingly uncivil political atmosphere pretty much guarantee that a man (or woman) perceived to be disabled or physically weak could never be elected president.

What you may not know, or may have forgotten, is that we’ve already had a president in a wheelchair. Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was president from 1933-1945, was a paraplegic as a result of having had polio at age 29. At the time, most Americans didn’t know that the president couldn’t walk; in those pre-television days, presidential secrets were easier to keep, and there was an unspoken “gentlemen’s agreement” that the press wouldn’t mention FDR’s disability. The picture below is one of only five that exist of the president in a wheelchair.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was our longest-serving president and the only one to be elected four times. He led our country out of the Depression in the 1930s and to victory in World War II in the 1940s. He is considered by many scholars and historians to be one of the three best presidents we’ve ever had. And he did it all in a wheelchair.

In job search and in general, I find the FDR story to be hugely inspiring. If you would like to learn more about FDR, his wife Eleanor and their cousin Theodore, check out the new documentary by Ken Burns, The Roosevelts – An Intimate History.

Kimberly Hanes is a writer with a passionate love for words and ideas and extensive experience in business communications and event planning.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Labor Day

Do you know the history of Labor Day? As we celebrate this “end of summer” holiday I thought it would be interesting to do a little research to learn more about Labor Day and how it came to be a national holiday. I found the following Q & As on the website of the U.S. Department of Labor.

Q: What’s the history of Labor Day? How did it all begin?

A: The Labor Day holiday is interesting because it evolved over a period of years. In 19th century America, there was already a tradition of having parades, picnics and various other celebrations in support of labor issues, such as shorter hours or to rally strikers. But most historians emphasize one specific event in the development of today’s modern Labor Day. That pivotal event was the parade of unions and a massive picnic that took place in New York City on Sept. 5, 1882.

After that major event in New York City, other localities began to pick up the idea for a fall festival of parades and picnics celebrating workers.

Q: When did it become a national holiday and why?

A: Labor Day as a national, legal holiday had an interesting evolution. The legalized celebration of Labor Day began as individual state celebrations. In 1887, New York, New Jersey and Colorado were among the first states to approve state legal holidays. Then other states joined in to create their own state Labor Days. Finally, in response to a groundswell of support for a national holiday celebrating the nation’s workers, Sen. James Henderson Kyle of South Dakota introduced S. 730 to the 53rd Congress to make Labor Day a legal holiday on the first Monday of September each year. It was approved on June 28, 1894.

You can read more about the history of Labor Day at the Department of Labor’s website, http://www.dol.gov/laborday.

Kimberly Hanes is a writer with a passionate love for words and ideas and extensive experience in business communications and event planning.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Comic Relief

I was surfing through my Twitter feed when I saw a tweet from CareerBuilder that said, “Wish you had a list of the behaviors to avoid during a job interview? Wish granted” and there was a link to an article. Most of the time I don’t click on this kind of tweet because at this point in my job search, plus my own stint as a Job Coach, I figure there aren’t any “job seeker secrets” that I haven’t heard by now.

This time, however, I clicked, and was taken to an article on a website called theworkbuzz.com. At first the “behaviors to avoid” were the usual ones that appear on these kinds of lists – appearing disinterested, dressing inappropriately, talking negatively about a previous employer, etc. Then came the good stuff, from a survey of more than 2,000 hiring managers and human resources professionals who were asked to share the most memorable mistake they’d seen a job seeker make.

No one reading this blog would ever actually do anything like what follows, right? This is just a little “job seeker comic relief.” Enjoy.

  • Applicant warned the interviewer that she “took too much valium” and didn’t think her interview was indicative of her personality
  • Applicant acted out a Star Trek role
  • Applicant  answered a phone call for an interview with a competitor
  • Applicant arrived in a jogging suit because he was going running after the interview
  • Applicant asked for a hug
  • Applicant attempted to secretly record the interview
  • Applicant brought personal photo albums
  • Applicant called himself his own personal hero
  • Applicant checked Facebook during the interview
  • Applicant crashed her car into the building
  • Applicant popped out his teeth when discussing dental benefits
  • Applicant kept her iPod headphones on during the interview
  • Applicant set fire to the interviewer’s newspaper while reading it when the interviewer said “Impress me”
  • Applicant said that he questioned his daughter’s paternity
  • Applicant wanted to know the name and phone number of the receptionist because he really liked her

You can read the entire article here.

Kimberly Hanes is a writer with a passionate love for words and ideas and extensive experience in business communications and event planning.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

What I Didn’t Expect In Job Search

In my post last week I mentioned an acquaintance who was nostalgic for the good old days of job search, when “all you had to do was look in the Sunday paper.” I want to make clear that I wasn’t criticizing or mocking this person; in fact six years ago, when I was laid off by the company I’d worked for 20+ years,  I was thinking the same thing: Wow, job search sure has changed. As I really got into the process however, I was surprised, and I mean in a good way, at all the resources that are available to a job seeker.

One resource, of course, is the internet. LinkedIn, the job boards, the blogs and other social media are all good ways of connecting with people, building your network and (sometimes) finding job openings that are a good fit for your skills. You can set up Google alerts to notify you when a target company is in the news. I’ve even heard that people are finding opportunities on Twitter!

What I didn’t realize, or expect, when I found myself in job search in 2008, was all the other things a job seeker can do to connect with people and put themselves on the “radar screen” of hiring managers. If you’re looking for ways to broaden your network and energize your job search, get out from behind the computer and connect with people face to face.  Toastmasters, Rotary, and local Chambers of Commerce are all good examples of organizations where you can get involved and meet people who are otherwise outside your usual network.

What I didn’t expect is that for a savvy, energetic and creative job seeker, these really are the good old days.

Kimberly Hanes is a writer with a passionate love for words and ideas and extensive experience in business communications and event planning.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

The Good Old Days

An acquaintance of mine, who’s now in job search after 25+ years at the same company, recently stated that looking for a job used to be easier, because “all you had to do was look in the Sunday paper.” We were attending a presentation about how to use some of the “advanced” features of LinkedIn and I understand why she was feeling overwhelmed.

Just keeping a LinkedIn profile up-to-date and maximized is pretty time-consuming and that’s just one element of job search. Researching target companies, tracking down contacts and potential hiring managers, attending networking events and job search seminars, not to mention preparing for and going to interviews, it’s a lot to do. I’ve heard more than one job seeker say that they’re working a whole lot harder in job search than they did in their actual job.

Still, the job search process may have been easier, or at least less complex, 25 or 30 years ago but I firmly believe that now is better. There are so many resources available to a job seeker. There’s LinkedIn, of course, and all the various job boards. There’s Twitter and some cool job search blogs (like this one!) There’s your local library. Yes, really. A good library, and a good research librarian, can be a job seeker’s best friend. They are the gateway to online business databases like Reference USA, Hoovers and LexisNexis, where you can find all kinds of great information about your target companies.

Yes, the process and all that information can be overwhelming, but I wouldn’t want to go back to the days of buying the Sunday paper and circling jobs with a red pen. For a savvy job seeker who is using all the available resources, these really are the good old days.

Kimberly Hanes is a writer with a passionate love for words and ideas and extensive experience in business communications and event planning.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Back To School

On Friday, which was August 1, a young friend of mine who will be a senior in high school this fall told me that he only had 19 days of summer vacation left. My friend spoke in sadness, sorry to see summer coming to an end. For me it’s a good thing. Even though I’m many years removed from going back to school, I still have a sense of newness, of possibility, of starting something, when summer wanes and it starts to feel like fall.

Partly this is because I don’t fully enjoy the heat of the summer, so I’m happy to get out the cozy sweaters and bundle up a little when the weather gets cooler. I look forward to the foods I associate with autumn, like crisp apples and pumpkin pie. I also celebrate my birthday in early September, which signifies that for better or worse, another year has gone by.

Conventional wisdom in job search says don’t let up during the summer months but I’d be willing to bet that most job seekers do, to one degree or another, deliberately or otherwise. It’s just hard-wired into us by the warmth of the summer sun and the rhythms of the school year.

Still, fall is coming and I invite you to take a “back to school” approach to jump-starting your job search. Review and update your resumé; tweak your LinkedIn profile and reach out to some new contacts; take a good look at your cool-weather interview outfit to make sure it’s ready to go. Get a haircut, polish your shoes, and make sure you’ve got plenty of business cards. Fall will be here soon; the kids will be going back to school. If you’ve enjoyed a bit of a summer break, it’s time to go “back to search.”

Kimberly Hanes is a writer with a passionate love for words and ideas and extensive experience in business communications and event planning.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Selling It

The condo unit directly below mine just went on the market for sale, and I’m watching closely to see how fast it sells and what the final sale price is. I don’t know these neighbors very well and I’ve never been in their unit, although I know that their floor plan is identical to mine. When I saw the For Sale sign in their window, I was curious to know not just what their asking price is, but also how the unit looks. So I went to their realtor’s website and pulled up the listing.

In addition to information about location, taxes, schools and asking price, there are 13 pictures. Several things struck me as I clicked through each picture. First, the unit is immaculately clean, so much so that I can see the tracks in the carpet from the vacuum cleaner. The kitchen and bathrooms are gleaming and it looks as though every room has been freshly painted. All good. On the other hand, some of the rooms look dated. The kitchen cabinets are the same ones I had before I remodeled my kitchen and the big front bathroom looks identical to mine, and mine is past its prime and needs to be remodeled.

After looking at the webpage for my neighbors’ home, I checked out a few other condos in the same price range. In particular I was curious to see the pictures. How was each owner “presenting” their home to the buying public? Some, frankly, were a disaster. Not just not updated, but barely cleaned. Others looked like model homes, with every room freshly painted, with updated fixtures and fresh-looking decor.

Every owner who puts their home on the market makes decisions about how to present it to the public. Clearly, not everyone is in a position, financially or timewise,  to completely update their house before selling it. On the other hand, some owners are choosing not to do any preparation at all, showing their homes in all their lived in, cluttered glory and ignoring “conventional wisdom” about how best to market a home.

Do you see any parallels to job search?

Kimberly Hanes is a writer with a passionate love for words and ideas and extensive experience in business communications and event planning.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

 

Mistakes, Forgiveness And Moving On

Have you heard? LeBron James is going back to Cleveland. I’m joking, of course. Unless you’ve been, as the saying goes, living in a cave, you can’t help but be aware that basketball star LeBron has chosen to return to Cleveland. This was a big, big deal when it was announced Friday, so much so that by the end of the day I was ready to scream “Enough, already.”

The Backstory: James grew up in Akron, part of the area called Northeast Ohio that also includes Cleveland. He was, apparently, the best high school player in the country and instead of going to college, he jumped directly to the pros, where he was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers. He played for the Cavs for seven years and was considered not just a great player but a hometown hero. Then, in 2010, as a free agent, he chose to leave Cleveland to play for the Miami Heat, saying “I’m taking my talents to South Beach.” This was not a popular decision, to put it mildly, and James was excoriated by Cleveland fans, sports reporters and bloggers, fellow pro players and most famously, by the owner of the Cleveland Cavs.

The Letter: Cavs owner Dan Gilbert was so angry at James that he published an open letter to fans on the Cavs’ website and it’s a doozy, describing James and his decision as narcissistic, a cowardly betrayal, a shameful display of selfishness and a heartless, callous action. Yikes. Gilbert also promised this: “I personally guarantee that the Cleveland Cavaliers will win an NBA championship before the self-titled ‘King’ wins one. You can take it to the bank.” (One of the biggest clues that James was coming back happened the previous Sunday, when the Cavs deleted the letter from their website.)

The Miami Years: So what happened? In the four years he played for Miami, James led the Heat to the NBA finals four times, won the championship twice and this year, lost to the San Antonio Spurs. Cleveland won zero championships during that time. Now once again a free agent, James is returning to Cleveland where he will once again work for Dan Gilbert and play for the Cavs.

The Reconciliation: All appears to be forgiven. James and Gilbert have kissed and made up, figuratively speaking, with James acknowledging that he made mistakes and Gilbert saying they had five great years together blighted by just one terrible night. Oddsmakers are calling Cleveland the team to beat next year. With Johnny Manziel drafted by the Cleveland Browns and the Republicans choosing Cleveland for their 2016 convention, it’s moonlight and roses in Cleveland right now.

The Lessons: Screw ups, even big ones, can be recovered from. Seeing the ecstatic joy of Cleveland fans at the return of the prodigal son, it’s easy to forget that four years ago, James was one of the most unpopular athletes in the country. Team owners, like jilted lovers and rejected job seekers, should think twice before publishing their “screw you” missives for all the world to see. In particular, don’t “guarantee” something that almost certainly won’t happen. Circumstances change, people mature and learn from their mistakes, a better outcome down the road is almost always possible.

Kimberly Hanes is a writer with a passionate love for words and ideas and extensive experience in business communications and event planning.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved